2 December 2013

I don't want to miss a thing

Not only do I have a reading compulsion, but also a listening one, which means I go to great lengths to ensure I don't miss a word of conversation or dialogue. As with my reading and eating compulsions, it's all about a need for wholeness.

Face to face, I might ask people to repeat things, if I wasn't concentrating; even if what they said wasn't important and I've already caught the gist of it. 

It's trickier if I miss part of a lecture or talk, perhaps because I lose focus, or because, say, someone behind me coughs. I can hardly keep putting my hand up to interrupt the speaker.

It's equally important to me not to miss dialogue on screen. Modern technology renders television an easy medium to manipulate - and so makes it almost impossible to resist this aural compulsion. 

With the facility to pause and rewind even live television broadcasts, I find myself going back over the same short section of programme again and again, trying to catch exactly what was said. 

Sometimes even this doesn't help. Increasingly, actors seem to mumble, and if they also have an accent, I might as well be listening to Swahili. Regional accents can be hard enough, but I also watch a lot of American series, which only compounds the problem.

Frasier Crane in Frasier: Motor Skills (Season 8, Episode 11)
Photo: Peter Gettins Photography

That's where technology comes in once more; with subtitles. If a couple of re-runs of a scene don't help, I switch on the subtitles, rewind and have another go. Often, though, they're slow to kick in and I reach the sticking point before the words appear on screen. I have to rewind yet again, a bit further, to reveal the mystery dialogue.

At which point, I often discover that this has:

1. Contributed nothing to the plot (or the comedy, if the show has a comic element), or
2. Is still incomprehensible, as the words are an Americanism, a made-up science-fiction term, or specialist terminology in a subject I know nothing about.

This happened recently during an old episode of Frasier, where the scrambled words transpired to be 'shoulder noogie'. From an internet search, my best guess is that a 'noogie' is a painful poke or jab. Perhaps one of my readers Stateside can confirm?

Inevitably, this habit drags out the time it takes to watch anything and also ruins a story's momentum. So, lately, I've been trying to resist this urge and just pick up what I miss as the story unfolds.

Besides, it's only television: how much of it is really of any importance? No doubt I'm better off spending the time I reclaim in the real world.

* * *

I haven't encountered another OCD sufferer with this compulsion. If you have OCD, is this something you can relate to?


Anonymous said...

Hi Helen, Yes, your definition of a noogie is accurate :). I don't have OCD so it's hard for me to relate but I find your post interesting. For me, watching television or a movie is a way to relax, but it sounds just the opposite for you with your specific compulsions. Wishing you all the best!

Lindsay said...

I'm glad it's not just me that thinks so many actors mumble (wasn't sure if it was my hearing that was deteriorating)especially Americans! I watched an entire film, where I could catch only about half the dialogue of one actress - but the plot was pretty basic so it didn't matter - so, no, I didn't attempt a re-run that time but on a DVD have often done just that!!

Unknown said...

Yes, I can complete;y relate regarding your blog article.

Anonymous said...

Helen, being a huge Frazier fan, I have watched all the eps of every series at least 5-6 times so now I can pretty much recite word for word the funny bits from each episode. A huge waste of time? Maybe, but my husband and I guffaw at length whenever something happens in reality that allows us to quote a Frazierism. Perhaps there will come a time when your skill with the rewind button may also bring a smile to your face...?

Helen Barbour said...

ocdtalk, thank you for confirming my understanding of what a 'noogie' is. And yes, watching television is often far from relaxing, unless I make a determined effort to resist hitting the 'rewind' button!

Helen Barbour said...

Lindsay, I have also had worries about my hearing, but have been reassured to find out, when I watch something with my partner, that he has the same trouble. We have to translate for each other - assuming, of course, that one of us has managed to make out what's being said. Frequently we're both struggling over the same section of dialogue or with the same actor's delivery.

Helen Barbour said...

Mike, thanks for your feedback.

Helen Barbour said...

frenchforestgarden, it is impossible to watch Frasier too often! I recently saw the Three Valentines' episode again and the Niles' section had me nearly crying with laughter, as usual. John Diamond (the broadcaster and journalist), commented, when he was terminally ill with cancer, that it was the little things in life that made the difference, and specifically mentioned watching re-runs of Frasier as one such thing. Very occasionally, I find an episode I've never seen before, which is a real treat.

Unknown said...

I know this is old. But my son has this issue with TV and conversations with people as well.

Helen said...

'Unknown', thanks for getting in touch and I hope that this doesn't trouble your son too much.